NetherlandsSteven Rodney "Steve" McQueen CBE (born 1969) is a London-born artist and filmmaker. He is a winner of the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a Turner Prize and BAFTA.
Steven Rodney "Steve" McQueen CBE (born 1969) is a London-born artist and filmmaker. He is a winner of the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a Turner Prize and BAFTA.
McQueen was born in London, England and of Grenadian descent, McQueen grew up in West London and went to Drayton Manor High School. He was a keen footballer, turning out for the St. Georges Colts football team. He did an A level art at Hammersmith and West London College, then studied art and design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and then fine art at Goldsmiths College where he first became interested in film. He left Goldsmiths in 1993 and then studied briefly at the Tisch School in New York City after winning a place there. He found the approach there too stifling and not experimental enough for him, however, complaining that "they wouldn't let you throw the camera up in the air".
Bear (1993) was McQueen's first major film, presented at the Royal College of Art in London. Although not an overtly political piece, for many it raised rather sensitive issues on race, homoeroticism and violence. It shows a wrestling match between two men who alternate ambiguous relations and gestures of aggression and erotic attraction. The film's protagonists, one of them McQueen, are both black, but issues of race, he has said, are not a priority in his work. Like all McQueen's early films, Bear is black and white. It was shot on 16mm film.
Five Easy Pieces (1995) is a short film by McQueen it literally follows a woman across a tightrope; himself stating the idea that a tightrope walker is "the perfect image of a combination of vulnerability and strength."
Just Above My Head (1996) is a short film which shares close ties with McQueen's preceding film with the key theme of walking. A man - played by McQueen - is shot in a way as so as to crop out his body, but his head appears small at the image's bottom, rising and falling with his step and coming in and out of frame according to the movement of the camera. As stated by David Frankel, the "simultaneous fragility and persistence" is seemingly meant as a metaphor for black life in England as elsewhere.
Exodus (1997) is a sixty-five-second color video which takes the title of a record by Bob Marley as its starting point. It records a found event, two black men carrying potted palms, the greenery waving precariously above their heads, whom McQueen followed down a London street. Then they get on a bus and leave.
Western Deep (2002), commissioned for Documenta 11, constitutes a powerful exploration of the sensory experience of the Tautona goldmine in South Africa, showing migrant labourers working in claustrophobic, dark environments and the ear-splitting noise of drilling.
McQueen's films as an artist were typically projected onto one or more walls of an enclosed space in an art gallery, and often in black and white and minimalist. He has cited the influence of the nouvelle vague and the films of Andy Warhol. He often appeared in the films himself.
His first major work was Bear (1993), in which two naked men (one of them McQueen) exchange a series of glances which might be taken to be flirtatious or threatening. Deadpan (1997), is a restaging of a Buster Keaton stunt in which a house collapses around McQueen who is left unscathed because he is standing where there is a missing window.
As well as being in black and white, both these films are silent. The first of McQueen's films to use sound was also the first to use multiple images: Drumroll (1998). This was made with three cameras, two mounted to the sides, and one to the front of an oil drum which McQueen rolled through the streets of Manhattan. The resulting films are projected on three walls of an enclosed space. McQueen has also made sculptures such as White Elephant (1998) and photographs.
He won the Turner Prize in 1999, although much of the publicity went to Tracey Emin, who was also a nominee.
In 2006, he went to Iraq as an official war artist. The following year he presented Queen and Country, a piece which commemorated the deaths of British soldiers who died in the Iraq War by presenting their portraits as a sheet of stamps.
His 2007 short film Gravesend depicted the process of Coltan refinement and production. It premiered at The Renaissance Society in the United States.
His 2008 feature film Hunger, about the 1981 Irish hunger strike, premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. McQueen received the Caméra d'Or (first-time director) Award at Cannes, the first British director to win the award. The film was also awarded the inaugural Sydney Film Festival Prize, for "its controlled clarity of vision, its extraordinary detail and bravery, the dedication of its cast and the power and resonance of its humanity". The film also won the 2008 Diesel Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The award is voted on by the press attending the festival. Hunger also won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for a New Generation film in 2008 and the best film prize at the London Evening Standard Film Awards in 2009.
McQueen represented Britain at the 2009 Venice Biennale.
Steve McQueen is represented by Thomas Dane Gallery, London, and by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. He lives and works in Amsterdam and London.
McQueen has been tapped to direct Fela, a biopic about the Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti.
Already an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to the visual arts.
McQueen's second major theatrical release, Shame, is set in New York City.
Books and limited
editions are now
in our new Shop!
Using Facebook makes it easier to find friends
Connecting to Facebook…
Already have an account? Log in
Using Facebook makes it easier to find friends.
Join using Email
Have an account already? Login here